Some of yus have already been put off by the title of this article. We are almost through with January and our New Year resolutions are turning into just wishful dreaming.
Others of ua have been drawn in by this title, yearning for a change and thankful for the fresh start of a new year. Change is often elusive, whether we are desperately chasing after it or hesitant to make the commitment. Change is a process that involves developing different habits. However, Change actually begins in our minds.
The process of change is discussed in Scott Real’s book, Journey to Freedom. The first step to change is actually when we think: “If everyone else would change, my life would be just fine.” We are hesitant to take responsibility for our own short-comings. We don’t like to think that there might be something “wrong” with the way we have been living our lives. The first step to change is to stop focusing on the “problem” with those around us and to begin searching within ourselves.
The second step to change is the thinking stage. We begin to think, “If I change, what would that look like?” “What would this change cost me?” “How will my life be different, if I make this change?”
If we work too quickly through this thinking stage or skip it entirely, our change will not be lasting. Often, we are quick to make a New Year’s resolution to exercise regularly. Immediately we join a gym and set our alarm for 5:00am. This quick change may last for a few days or perhaps even weeks, but all too quickly, we wake up one morning at 8:00am and realize we haven’t been to the gym in weeks.
Instead, it is more valuable to spend time thinking and praying about this change. Begin by spending time talking with God about His desires for us and His plans for our lives. What will this change look like in our lives? Proverbs 3:5-6 talks about trusting the Lord, seeking His understanding and trusting Him to give us straight paths.
Proverbs 16:3 states, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (NIV) Too often, we rush ahead and make our own plans without consulting the Lord, thinking that we know best. God is interested in every aspect of our lives, including our health, emotional well-being and our interaction with others. When we stop and ask Him to guide us in our weight, exercise or time use goals, we are always more successful.
During this thinking stage of change, stop and consider, “What are my thought patterns concerning this area of my life?” Our behaviors that develop into habits (good or bad) are rooted in our thinking. Why am I over-eating? Why am I not exercising?
Why do I over commit myself? Identifying those thought patterns that are the root of the behavior we wish to change is the foundation to lasting change. Isaiah 55:8 states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Whatever change God asks us to make this year, He has the best plan. Take time to stop and ask Him.
We must ask Him to help us identify those thinking patterns that are keeping us from making this change in our lives. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. If we ask Him to help us identify our destructive thought patterns, He will reveal to each of us these negative patterns. Then we can ask Him to transform our behavior by renewing our minds (Romans 12:2).
As Christ renews our minds, we will have more traction for changing our behavior. Change is never easy and still requires work. But we are just spinning our wheels if we run ahead of Christ trying to will ourselves into a new behavior. We must join with Christ as we step into this New Year. Asking Him to show us where we need to change. Let’s spend time in prayer, seeking His ways and His thoughts about this change in our lives.
We can take those old thinking patterns captive and choose to make our minds obedient to Christ and His new way of thinking. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Becki Robinson co-directs the Marriage Resource Center of Greene County with her husband, Rex.